June 13, 2024


Red Hot Food

How Did You Train Your Restaurant Staff?

As a successful restaurant owner I am often asked why are my waiting staff so good? How do you train your waiters?

The answer is always the same, I give them a subconscious understanding of their role.

“You do what?” they always ask. We train them. We train them everyday so they do not have to think about what to do, they only have to be themselves and look after our guests.

When you learn to drive a car your instructor has done his job, not when you pass your test, but when you “Mirror, Signal, Manouver” without thinking about it!

If you really want your business to be a success then you must change the focus of your business and become a training company first. This may sound strange if you are in the restaurant business.

Why does Disney do what they do so well, the answer is TRAINING.

By setting your business up so that training is integral to your waiting staff and bartenders daily routine you are on the right road to success.

Devise for your business the perfect customer journey. How do you want your customer to be treated and what do you want them to be exposed to. An example of a successful visit should include the following:-

  • Welcome
  • Offering Choice
  • Showmanship (Confidence)
  • Presentation
  • Product Knowledge
  • Customer Awareness
  • Follow-up
  • Farewell

1. Welcome

The welcome is the first point of communication between the unit and the customer. The welcome must be warm and genuine with a smile. The customer must be made to feel as though he is genuinely welcome in a fashion unlike any other previous dining or drinking experience. He should feel as though his custom is important and appreciated.

2. Offering Choice

It is important that you understand that offering choice means how you convey information to the customer. It must be positive and effective, (If you have a problem with the principle of selling then the word “offering” may help you more in understanding the basic principle here). For example, most people will simply want the rum and coke which they have been drinking for the past ten years, you will have the product knowledge and skill to suggest that they try a Mojito. a quality restaurant likes to think of salesmanship as a part of service, offering a quality, alternative product at a fair price.

3. Showmanship (Confidence)

Showmanship means your whole performance – from the way you walk to the way you talk. Your staff have been hired for their personality – use it!

Showmanship is one of the most obvious ways in which your staff impresses the customer. Whether it’s the subtle flick of a bottle or the flamboyant carrying of four plates – every move of management and staff contributes to the impression. The goal is to have customers talking about us in a positive light and wanting to return because they have experienced something unique.

4. Presentation

This covers the entire customer experience whilst in YOUR ‘Smallworld’ (See Thoughts for all). The way your unit is presented; clean and clutter-free, the way you present product to a customer,your appearance, manner and of course implementing ‘Your Way’ to the best of your ability.

5. Product Knowledge

A complete knowledge of the products you sell is an absolute necessity. For example, if a car salesman didn’t know the country of origin of the car he was selling, he probably wouldn’t sell too many cars. Therefore, you are expected to have a sound knowledge of all our cocktails, wines, beers and spirits, and a thorough understanding of all our food.The more you understand about your product, the more likely it is you will be able to explain and recommend it to a customer confidently knowing they are satisfied rather than simply being served.

6. Customer Awareness

This means you know exactly what your customers are doing from the second they walk into your unit until the second they leave. From a quick acknowledgment to a warm farewell, this awareness enables you to give truly professional service. If a customer looks as though he wants something, ask him, and get it immediately. If a guest is sitting in the restaurant looking around be aware and ask if they need anything. On the other hand, if a customer is drinking too much, be aware of it and if a problem is evident deal with it. If you are totally aware, your job becomes easier and customer satisfaction is greatly increased.

Awareness is a skill to be developed, a great frustration is a perception of being ignored, this may come across as rude to a guest, but more often than not is due to a lack of awareness. The balance to this is about knowing when to leave guests alone – knowing when to talk and when to walk, you would not want to be asked 3 times how a dish is nor would you want a conversation whilst your food is on the table.

7. Follow-Up

Quite simply this means you as a professional should care that the customer is enjoying their meal or beverage. The question should be personalized to the customer i.e: “How is your Steak?” rather than just “How is your meal?” This makes a world of difference to the customer, who feels as though you have an interest in them and there experience – which as a professional you should. If the dish is not satisfactory find out why and, if necessary get it changed.

8. Farewell

A warm, genuine farewell is essential. The last experience for the customer is often the only one they remember, so always say “good-bye”, “thank you” and “see you again” in a warm, sincere manner.

The above eight steps are the very least your customers deserve. Getting your staff to follow this, that is where restaurant training comes in.